March 25, 2015
There are many good private schools in our country. Attending a recent conference, one of the presentations focused on distinguishing between great schools and the merely good ones. The single determining factor is quite simple – it is the interest and involvement of alumni that propels a school to greatness. Are you surprised?
Newark Academy is, by virtually every measure – selectivity of admission, quality of faculty, college placements, parent satisfaction and financial stability – a great school. Yet until recently, we had only anecdotal information about how and why our alumni choose to remain engaged at NA. Last summer, Newark Academy conducted its first ever Alumni Attitude Survey. The purpose of the survey was two-fold:
- to establish baseline data by which we can measure our future efforts toward improving alumni engagement; and
- to better understand the opinions and needs of our alumni and to use that understanding to improve programming and services to NA alumni.
Newark Academy engaged a firm, PEG, Ltd. in order to become part of a nationally-recognized group of colleges, universities and independent schools using a standardized set of questions which provides for comparative analysis.
In addition to the standard questions, Newark Academy added a number of customized questions to its survey which was launched in June 2014 and closed in August 2014. Data analysis work continued through the fall and the NA Alumni Board of Governors received a report on the survey’s results on January 14, 2015.
The following provides a snapshot of the survey results:
- An overall response rate of 9.9% (above average for all PEG, Ltd. surveys)
- Responses were evenly distributed between alumni living within 100 miles of NA (51%) and those living 100 miles or more away from NA (48%)
- Fifteen percent (15%) of respondents ethnically identified in categories other than Caucasian.
- Respondents by gender were 64% male and 36% female.
Overall Opinion of Newark Academy
- 96% of respondents rated the decision to attend Newark Academy “Great” (77%) or “Good” (19%)
- Respondents who graduated in 2000 or later gave the highest positive rating regarding the decision to attend Newark Academy.
- 93% of respondents described their overall current opinion of Newark Academy as “Excellent” or “Good”
- Respondents indicated that Newark Academy provided “good to excellent” preparation in the
- Further education
- Current work status
- Commitment to personal development
- Responding to new career opportunities
- Contributing to my community
- Respondents rated as “very important” the following aspects of their student experience at NA:Respondents indicated that the following items have the greatest impact on their overall opinion of NA:
- Relationships with the faculty
- Values learned on campus
- Respondents indicated that the following items have the greatest impact on their overall opinion of NA:
- Accomplishments of current students (82%)
- Value/respect by others for the NA diploma (80%)
- Accomplishments of the faculty (75%)
- History/tradition (72%)
- Accomplishments of alumni (71%)
The Newark Academy Alumni Experience
- 69% of respondents described their experience as an NA alumnus/ae as “Excellent” or “Good”
- 78% of respondents who graduated between 1994 and 2000 described their experience as an NA alumnus/ae as “Excellent” or “Good”
- When asked “how well NA supports alumni participation” in a variety of areas, respondents ranked “requesting financial support” as the most supported activity and “identifying job opportunities” as the least supported activity
- Respondents indicated the following were the top barriers to participating in alumni activities and events:
- Available time/Other commitments – 67%
- Geographical distance – 55%
- Event type or subject matter – 23%
- When asked about preferences regarding frequency of contact:
- 43% indicated they “would welcome more” information postings on social media
- 75% indicated that the frequency of printed materials is “about right”
- 67% indicated that the frequency of email correspondence (including newsletters) was “about right"
- 36% indicated that the frequency of requests for solicitations was “too much”
- When asked to rate the usefulness of services offered to NA Alumni on a scale of 1-5 (1 being least useful), respondents indicated:
- OUTREACH magazine as the “most useful” with an overall rating of 3.7
- Alumni events received a rating of 3.5
- Internship and career networking services received a rating of 3.2
- Social Media sites (Facebook and LinkedIn) for NA alumni received a rating of 2.7
- The smartphone Alumni Directory app received a rating of 2.3
- When asked about the frequency of their visits to the Newark Academy alumni website:
- 55% of respondents had been on the site between 1 and 5 times in the past year
- 31% of respondents had not been on the site at all in the past year
- 76% of respondents indicated that when visiting the NA alumni site information they were looking for was “easy to find”
- When asked to choose their strongest affiliation with NA:
- 70% indicated that their year of graduation (and those classmates) was their strongest affiliation
- 10% indicated their athletic team was their strongest affiliation
- 10% indicated their student club, organization or arts group was their strongest affiliation
- When asked in what areas they would like to become more involved:
- 34% indicated they would like to come to more alumni social events
- 23% indicated they would like to be more involved in internship/career networking activities
The information provided here is merely a “top line” view of a vast amount of data that the Alumni Engagement Survey has provided to Newark Academy’s administration and the Alumni Association Board of Governors. All information provided from the survey has been segmented by graduation year “eras” so that we can compare different responses based on the length of time respondents have been away from NA. Perhaps the most important aspect of the survey’s completion is that it provides NA with a set of baseline data that will allow us to measure progress in our efforts to engage our alumni in meaningful and relevant ways.
For now, we intend to use the information provided us to refine existing alumni activities and to develop new programming based on the feedback we have obtained. We are very grateful for all the NA alumni who took the time to complete this survey. Please know that if you responded, your effort is having a direct impact on our efforts to strengthen this great school.
Lisa Grider John Bess
Director of Institutional Advancement President
Newark Academy Alumni Association Board of Governors